4-Year old: Eating & Dressing

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This topic contains 3 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by  Distractdad 8 months ago.

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  • #83958


    Our four year old is a bit too early to be formally diagnosed, but neuropsych testing shows his behavior is consistent with ADHD at home and borderline in his preschool. I (father) was recently diagnosed with ADD.

    Long story short: he takes a long time to eat food… and a long time put on his clothes in the morning. I’m talking close to 60 minutes to eat a meal, and 30 minutes to get his clothes on. We have a younger child as well, and my wife and I both go to work after dropping kids off. I’d love to hear any strategies to get through this period of the day. He’s simply so distractible while eating and trying to put on clothes. I do have him look at me, make eye contact, and I try to get him to repeat what he’s supposed to be doing. But that only lasts a few seconds, before he forgets and is excited/distracted by something else… such as his little brother, other toys, or anything else in the area that he can engage with. Next year he’s starting public schools and will need to take the bus at 7:30 every morning. I won’t have the flexibility anymore to let things run 30 or 60 minutes later depending how distractible he is on any given day.

    I really don’t want to nag over and over, or even worse get upset with him. I empathize with him as I share a lot of his personality… but I’m at the point I need to find more tools to make this time of day easier for everyone.


  • #83995


    I used a morning checklist and created a strict routine for mornings. It created an 80+% improvement. Here’s exactly what I did:

    Wake Up and Smell the Calmness

    Also, try breakfasts that can be eaten on the go: drinkable yogurt, smoothie, breakfast burrito, string cheese, etc.

    Remember too that 4 years old is very young for expecting self-sufficiency, even for tasks like eating a meal. And ADHD is a developmental delay, so he’s really functioning a year or more behind that.

    ADDitude Community Moderator, Parenting ADHD Trainer & Author, Mom to teen w/ ADHD, LDs, and autism

  • #84259


    Thank you for your reply! Your advice and article is helpful.

  • #84527


    I am in a similar position. My son is 5 and I have a 2 year old daughter. My son is a bear to get ready in the morning and on days my wife has off of work, we have kept him home from 4K just because he would miss half of school by the time he got ready.

    We still struggle with him but some things that have helped us is basically turning everything into a game of sorts. Now with our son, this will last a little while then it isn’t a “game” anymore, its routine and he catches on to what we are doing lol. When getting dressed, we basically race him to getting ready. For our son he likes to be the “first one” when it comes to games and such so before I get ready for work, I go into his room and tell him that I am going to race him to getting dressed and if he wins, he gets to pick out what he wants for breakfast (actual breakfast options though, its not like he gets “anything” for breakfast). This helps quite a bit for us for getting dressed but we have to make sure we have the energy level for it because the more excited you are about it, the more he will find it exciting. My wife is a birth to five teacher for our school district and is currently teaching me Positive Solutions for our kids because sometimes my frustration level is too high and I need to work on keeping things positive. Negative emotions and actions with kids only makes things worse so always try to stay positive.

    With eating I sometimes ask my son to help get breakfast ready. He likes helping and getting out things needed for making oatmeal or waffles or cereal so I try to include him in that process. Obviously you still have to make sure to get things done and sometimes a kid can slow a process but I feel the time it takes him to get stuff instead of me is shorter than the tantrums he throws when I am pushing him to do things instead. I’ve also tried switching up where breakfast is eaten. Every once in a while we pull out the Little Tykes picnic table from the play room to the kitchen and have a change of scenery. If its nice outside maybe sit at the patio furniture or porch step.

    My son has not been officially diagnosed with ADHD but I have ADD and I see so many signs in him (aside from being a typical 5 year old) that he may have ADHD. I was diagnosed about 2 and a half years ago and it was such a relief because growing up I thought I was just a lazy kid. My mom was a single parent who worked a lot so I didn’t have a lot of support and it sucks knowing I could have accomplished so much more if I was diagnosed as a kid. As I mentioned before the most important thing (and I know this is hard some days…or a lot of days…) is to try and stay positive. Us ADD/ADHDers have such unique minds and we are unable to change to fit with the typical world so we have to change the world to fit with us. It takes time and I’ll admit I still have super hard days, but as long as you try, you are a great parent. In the words from one of my favorite movies “Never give up, Never surrender.” -Buzz Lightyear, Toy Story.


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